ENCAMPMENT RULES: Mayor’s announcement; Councilmember Herbold’s statement

More new developments on the night before a City Council committee next discusses how to shape the city’s rules about where unsheltered people can camp:

That’s the archived video of a media briefing called by Mayor Murray late today. While the announcement said it would be “a press conference ahead of the severe storms expected to impact Seattle (and to) lay out steps the City is taking to protect people experiencing homelessness during the severe weather,” more time was spent on the encampment legislation and the mayor’s plan for a proposal of his own.

A key point he stressed is that he would not allow camping in parks or on sidewalks, period, and that any such campers “will be removed.” He also said that he has city staff looking for sites for four new authorized encampments somewhere in the city (no locations mentioned), “safe alternative locations for people living unsheltered.” He also said that he will address the “trash crisis” related to so many living without shelter or services, including a system for picking up needles, and 10 new “dropoff boxes” for them “around the city.” (Again, no locations mentioned.) And he repeated something he’s said often, that the state and federal governments need to “step up” to help with the homelessness emergency, which he says has been brewing for decades.

Also present at the briefing, in addition to various city department heads, were Councilmembers Tim Burgess, Sally Bagshaw, and Debora Juarez. Bagshaw, who chairs the Human Services and Public Health Committee that will meet at 9:30 am tomorrow to discuss the encampment rules, spoke briefly; she reiterated that her committee will not vote tomorrow, but will discuss the alternatives that are now public, including the divergent bills she and Councilmember Mike O’Brien are offering (covered in this WSB story last night). She also issued this statement.

WHAT COUNCILMEMBER HERBOLD IS SAYING: Our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold has issued an updated statement on the encampment-rules issue. It’s published in its entirety on her blog-format City Council website; she says it’s the reply she sent to people who had contacted her about the issue.


-“There is still much more work to be done before this bill is ready for a vote.”

She says her three goals for the process are:

*Better manage public property and respond to the crisis of public homelessness with the objective of having fewer people living outside in our community

*Ensure that our current encampment removal practices are not barriers to people accessing housing and shelter resources.

*Address the legitimate and immediate public health and safety issues impacting both housed and unhoused residents in our communities

Elaborating extensively on all three points, she notes in reference to the first that: “There are 619 known encampments today, on city owned land, with only vague, ineffective written guidelines for how the city defines and prioritizes its work associated with cleaning areas, or removing people from specific locations.” And that’s why she says the council is trying to write rules/guidelines.

Toward the third point, Herbold says, “No one working on this legislation intends to create a ‘right to camp’ much less a ‘right to camp anywhere.’ The reality is that people are and will, for the near term, be living outdoors and that no one has a magic wand to change that reality overnight.”

Again, you can read her entire statement here.

33 Replies to "ENCAMPMENT RULES: Mayor's announcement; Councilmember Herbold's statement"

  • Mike October 13, 2016 (9:09 pm)

    I think Herbold and the rest of the council have proved they are not fit to manage any part of public property or be on the council.  It’s time to get them out of office.

  • joesmart October 13, 2016 (9:09 pm)

    We don’t need a magic wand. What we need is law enforcement.  Camping on the street and in public spaces should not be allowed.  And fines for all the litter thats piled up around the tents.  I do agree we need to find a housing solution.   Perhaps a cruise ship tax to pay for some housing! 

  • camp long neighbor October 13, 2016 (9:15 pm)

    I wrote to all of the City Council and never got a reply from any of them. Thanks WSB for keeping the community informed!

    • Kim M October 14, 2016 (2:05 am)

      I wrote to them all too, no reply either. 

  • ScubaFrog October 13, 2016 (9:34 pm)

    ‘The homeless’ are People.  Not trash.  These ‘sweeps’ are disgusting.   The views held by some (hopepfully not many?) Seattleites, that these human beings are just an annoyance, is very sad.  

    Zoo animals live better than this – with free healthcare.  And this is how we treat our fellow countrymen.  Veterans.  The mentally ill.  The infirm.  Castaways  

    Literally sweeping them away like garbage.  Shame on Murray, shame on anyone who’d approve (or stand by idly) while these pogroms occur. 

    • Blinkyjoe October 14, 2016 (9:28 am)

      1-Zoo animals are captured prisoners

      2-You need to look up the definition of “literally”

      3-You need to look up the definition of “pogrom”

      There are so many social programs available in King County to whomever wants to avail themselves of the help. 

      • Question Mark October 14, 2016 (2:44 pm)

        There are so many social programs available in King County to whomever wants to avail themselves of the help. 

        You should watch the video again (or for the first time) Seattle’s mayor literally said there isn’t currently enough capacity (i.e. funding–which comes from taxes) in these programs to serve everyone who is now camping out in public …

    • neighbor October 14, 2016 (9:54 am)

      I think you may be misinterpreting people’s opposition to the proposed ordinance. I am extremely opposed to it, and to much of our city’s past and current approach to homelessness, specifically BECAUSE the homeless are people and not trash. We spend more money than almost every city in the nation on homeless services, many of which aren’t producing results. I and many others would be happy to spend as much or even more… on things that actually reduce homelessness. 

      I completely support the mayor’s proposal, which takes a results-oriented approach and allocates funding appropriately. Unfortunately, some current providers of homeless services will fight it tooth and nail, because they know they’ll lose funding. And our current city council is more concerned with appearing kind  than they are with actually taking steps to help reduce homelessness. Because that’s hard. It’s expensive. And the only way to pay for it is to stop pouring money into things that don’t work.

      Your zoo comparison was interesting, as it almost sounds like you’re advocating imprisoning the homeless. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it was just a poor choice of words. But I don’t think most of the homeless population would be in favor of those trade-offs.

  • Outraged October 13, 2016 (9:35 pm)

    Of course she doesn’t intend to create the right to camp on public land. But examine her statement closely. Nowhere has she backed down from the bills labeling unsafe, unsuitable and “the rest” as the priorities for removal. If “the rest” includes any parks or greenspaces whatsover you can put $$$ on the fact that citizens will get zero response in requests for removal. 

    In short, a lot of words from Herbold, no noticeable change of plan.

  • Chuck October 13, 2016 (9:40 pm)

    Count me happily surprised that the Mayor is actually taking a hard line against this proposed legislation. Herbold is in CYA mode, and she should be. While I applaud her efforts to light a fire under taxpayers to get us to engage (the end may very well justify the means in terms of increased awareness and outreach for the homeless), I think she and the whole council have gone about it the wrong way. And I suspect she’ll realize that come re-election time. The whole lot of them.

  • dcn October 13, 2016 (10:01 pm)

    And the petition against camping in parks just hit 20,000 signatures. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stop-seattle-turning-our-parks-into-homeless-camps

    Lisa Herbold’s and Rob Johnson’s responses to their constituent’s emails focus on getting the homeless out of “unsafe and unsuitable” locations. Neither of them address the opposition to their proposal to open up parks to 30-day stays.

    By not declaring parks unsafe or unsuitable, and
    putting in a 30 day stay provision for these areas, the council is indeed attempting to create a “right to camp” in our parks.

    I’m glad the mayor is opposed. I only hope that the council doesn’t override his veto he if they persist in the idea of opening up parks as a sanctioned option for the homeless.

  • Beach drive resident October 13, 2016 (10:11 pm)

    I wrote to Mrs Herbold and never got any answer. This statement has zero substance, sound to me that she will vote in favor….This council is a sad joke 

  • Morgan October 13, 2016 (10:27 pm)

    I support Burgess’ position–this is a waste of effort and a distraction from real policies to help the problems in play.  Expect me to vote accordingly. 

  • Mary Ballou October 13, 2016 (10:58 pm)

    What about abandanded building that are safe and stable and what about churches ?

  • TheKing October 14, 2016 (12:08 am)

    Just stop asking home owners to pay for all of Seattle’s problems. I am not lucky to own a home, I didn’t win the life lottery. Worked my rear end off and sacrificed to get what I have. Homeowners should not be treated as a captive ATM machine. 

    • Kim M October 14, 2016 (2:11 am)

      Thank you!  Our property taxes go up year after year, soon they may just get to high that we won’t be able to pay them, but that’s ok, we’ll just grab the tent and sleep in one of the beautiful parks our tax dollars went into keeping nice.  Joking aside, this Bill is ridiculous and hopefully doesn’t pass….. 

  • Andy October 14, 2016 (4:49 am)

    I’m anxiously waiting for the next election so I can help vote the Mayor and Lisa out of office.

  • John October 14, 2016 (7:31 am)

    I was disappointed that Lisa did not directly address the feedback she has received from her constituents about camping in city parkland.  She needs to be clear about what her position is on this issue.  I’m left assuming that she  either disagrees with what she is hearing or has not yet made up her mind.  If so she should take responsibility and acknowledge  such. 

    • flimflam October 14, 2016 (7:38 am)

      I would imagine she and her other “progressive” council members are in full pout mode for now and will be trying to figure out verbiage to still do what they (aclu?) want.

  • smittytheclown October 14, 2016 (7:35 am)

    How about the council open up their own back yards first.  

    Lead by example folks.

  • flimflam October 14, 2016 (7:35 am)

    according to an article in the Stranger, the council says this is a “PR problem” – yeah, no kidding. the public is not happy with your proposal(s).

    I think another issue is that the city, SHARE and other “non-profits” need to show exactly how money is spent, especially when its coming from the city via taxpayers. the Grand 10 year Plan To End Homelessness Forever was a pretty massive failure with tens of millions of dollars going, well, who knows?


  • DH October 14, 2016 (7:38 am)

    @TheKing. Someone has to pay for what we need as a community. As a fellow home owner that is not rich either I’ll say we don’t pay enough taxes. Yes, you read the right. Washingtonians pay in less in taxes than people in other states. Either expect things to not be done or be prepared to pay. And @joesmart fining people that don’t have money is not a workable idea. When they can’t pay fines what is the next step? Lock them up? For being poor and not having a place to live or trash cans?

  • JoB October 14, 2016 (8:34 am)

    throw the bums out?
    whether talking about our homeless population or city councilors..  
    talk about a futile policy
    whether it’s “moving the homeless along” or throwing the bums in the city council out.. you are just going to get more “bums”

  • Mike October 14, 2016 (8:54 am)

    Actually DH, we pay more in taxes than most places in the USA.  It’s just we pay a medium amount on a lot more stuff.  Want food cooked, taxed.  Want a thing from the store, taxed.  Want gasoline, quadruple taxed.  Want a house, $4k a yearin tax  just for a three bedroom one bath.  Want cable TV, taxed.  Want cell phone service, taxed.  Want to register your vehicle, taxed.  Etc, etc, etc

  • Lizzzle October 14, 2016 (9:15 am)

    I received the response from Lisa Herbold last night.  I sent an email to each council member yesterday around noon. 

  • WSoldguy October 14, 2016 (10:37 am)

    Right on blinkyjoe…I agree 100%.  

  • Mike October 14, 2016 (11:24 am)

    Since not everyone is aware – we have a number of camps along Admiral Way between Belvedere Viewpoint at the top of the hill, and City View towards the bottom.  They are not visible from the street, but they are there.  These are turning into trash dumps, and unhygienic nuisances.  This is not the purpose for which this greenbelt property was acquired and preserved.  

  • M October 14, 2016 (1:42 pm)

    I read an interview in the Times a couple weeks ago with a homeless man in the jungle. He said he’s not going to live in a shelter “because they have rules.” Welcome to the real world chump! We all have rules to abide by. I’m sick of this crap. 

  • JoB October 15, 2016 (9:41 am)

    Portapotties, dumpsters and increased services are all cheaper than throwing the “bums” from one place to another..  So is housing.

  • Darryll October 15, 2016 (12:16 pm)

    Why do so many people feel a need to take a polarizing stance here? Can’t we all agree that there is a crisis and that we need to work together to find working solutions? Attacking people’s character undermines the possibility of reaching any kind of consensus and ensures that this problem and the blast radius will grow indefinitely. This is a slow motion train wreck. Please try and refrain from hyperbole and moral grandstanding so that we can move into thoughtful action!

    It’s clear that the standard Seattle process is delivering too little, and too late to be of much help. Perhaps citizens should start meeting in small to medium sized groups to try and really think through this at a grass roots level. Anyone in Westwood/ South Delridge interested in trying this out?

  • Eric October 15, 2016 (2:53 pm)

    I have seen these camps up close. I have cleaned others in the past. Garbage in so many layers on the ground it was like a landfill. Needles everywhere. Groups of people fighting like medieval gangs with sticks and knives over territory. I’m sure there are some that have fallen on hard times and want to rise out of it. But those usually end up using the programs we have. The rest choose this lifestyle. Maybe drug addiction led them there. Maybe they have a mental illness. Does it matter? All the money and programs in the world won’t help a huge percentage of these people. Go talk to them. Hang out with them. You will see. Many have reasons for being there that usually blames it on something or someone else, but dig deep enough and you’ll see the truth. Is it controversial to say that it is them not society? Of course their lives have been filled with hardship, but so have many others including myself, and those that really want to ascend into normal society find a way. I’ve seen it and been a part of it.

    What I say sounds harsh and for all the people who disagree I know who you are. Any of you wants to see where we are headed, go take a walk on Hastings in Vancouver. Policies that placate to these types of people just draw them in from every direction. They see Seattle as a haven for their way of life. They can stay fed and have land without any consequences.

    I know a man that overdosed in the woods in one of our parks. Wasn’t found for a month. While his dad went to lay a cross at the sight he found another body… think about that. Letting them do whatever they want doesn’t help us or them. Do I have the answers? Of course not. But I do know this can’t go on. I refuse to watch my city’s parks and neighborhoods degenerate because some of us can’t face reality. Move them out of the city to public housing. I’ll give money for that. Otherwise, if the city placates them or does nothing, I will advocate the people get together and force them out ourselves. If we show them they are not welcome they will change or go elsewhere. At some point we have to quit bending over backwards and look out for ourselves and our children.

    Feel free to tell me how horrible that is and how horrible I am for saying it. These are people not animals! Well you just keep on bending over backwards until your posh neighborhood is affected and you’ve given all you have to give. Don’t worry, they’ll accept it.

  • Kathy October 15, 2016 (7:49 pm)

    The only response I have received so far was from Mike O’Brien this afternoon. While I don’t agree with the ordinance, I understand the Council’s frustration with the lack of progress on the problem, and I am glad that they are bringing some sense of urgency to it, even if in the form of a drastic proposal.  After all, this state of emergency was declared almost a year ago. I think bashing the supporters of this ordinance is counter productive and I commend their sense of passion/compassion.  The people in great numbers have made their opposition to it  heard loudly enough to turn the the train in another direction. Hopefully it will inspire results. What is desperately needed are mental health/substance abuse housing/management/treatment and some way to steer people into those programs.

  • Evil Twin October 15, 2016 (9:36 pm)

    I’m with you Eric! Nuff said. The bell curve applies. There is the majority and the outliers. Many of the homeless are outliers and will never choose another path. Otherwise they would never be where they are. It seems like common sense. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for some people to get it. It’s basic statistics and math. Some people are super clean, some people are dirtbags. Some people work hard; some people are lazy. Some people are tall, some people are short. This is basic stuff!

Sorry, comment time is over.